After three days of running.
We ran through the forest and out into a small meadow.
As we continued to run and headed further into the grassland, we came to a sheer cliff. At the bottom of the cliff, we could see the gates of the fortress city of Granden.
It was about a hundred meters from the cliff to the ground.
I can land on the ground by jumping down, but it might be better to land quietly using Wind Swift Technique. Thinking about that, I talk to the elf girl nearby.
“Hey, Liz. What’s up?”
“…… You’re so pale. You’ve been chasing after me since the beginning.”
“No, I was surprised. I was worried that you might overreach yourself and die in the middle of nowhere, but it seems that you’ve easily broken through Tsefte Aria’s strict security network and come to the Empire?”
“They were all so careless when they looked at me like that. It was a piece of cake.”
With a packing bag in hand, she scratched her cheek and said.
“How do we get off this cliff?”
“Just jump down.”
“I’m not a suicidal person.”
It seems that even a prophet would be hesitant to jump from this height. I quickly put my hand around her right shoulder and grabbed her.
“Eh…. what are you doing, Theo-kun?”
“I’ll take you down. And by the way, I win the game.”
I lifted Liz up in a heap and used my left hand to support her legs, which were exposed through her skirt.
“What, what, could this be some sort of …… princess carry thing?”
“I suppose you could say that.”
“Uh, uh, yeah. I know. I know. It’s so nice to be carried by Theo-kun in a princess carry. …… If only we weren’t on such a precipice.”
“It’s okay. I’ll do something about it.”
“It won’t happen, will it? Theo looks kind, but he’s surprisingly heartless. So it doesn’t seem strange to throw me out in the middle of this.!?”
“I’ll make sure we get there safety. Let’s go, Liz.*
“Wait, wait, I’m not ready yet…. Oh my God!!”
I took a step forward with Liz in my arms and jumped off the cliff.
Liz is screaming.
I didn’t have time to warn her that if she opened her mouth that wide and screamed, she would bite her tongue from the impact of landing.
Liz put her arms around my neck and put a lot of pressure on me.
I could have landed on the ground as it was, but when I saw the ground, I activated my Wind Swift Technique.
The wind supported our bodies, and our momentum completely stopped just before we landed.
Liz is still screaming in my ear. It’s a little loud.
“It’s okay, Liz. Look.”
“What? Huh? …… Uh, uh …….”
She looked at my body floating about 30 centimeters off the ground, a look of surprise on her face.
“That’s a lot of control. …… I can’t use magic this well.”
“You’ll get used to it.”
Realizing that Liz was completely out of it and had relaxed her arms, I let go of her body.
Immediately afterwards, Liz fell from her buttocks with a thud to the ground and let out a strange scream and flailed around.
“Do you like it, princess? It was quite a thrill, wasn’t it?”
“Uh… If you think me as as princess, you should escort me to the end.”
Liz protests with tears in her eyes as she rubs her butt.
Even a free-spirited elf princess would have to suffer this much pain.
With that thought in mind, I turned my attention once again to the gates of Granden, and my eyes met with a girl’s.
A girl with long golden hair tied up on the right side, her eyes were also shining gold. She was about the same age as us, I guess. Her cool eyes are beautiful.
But it also looks a little steep.
She is wearing a military school uniform with black tones. The skirt was red in color. But strangely enough, on her shoulders she wore the shoulder patch used by military personnel.
She was supposed to be a student at a military school, but what the hell was going on?
While I was thinking about this, the blonde girl approached us with quick steps, ignoring the guards at the gate.
“Who are you?”
With her resolute demeanor and noble appearance to look at, she asked in a hard, quiet voice that perfectly matched the atmosphere.
“I’m Theodore from the Military Academy of Mildiana. And she is.”
“It’s Liz. ……”
When I dare not look at Liz, who gives me a resentful look, the girl in front of me says.
“Do you have any identification on you?”
“Is that okay?”
“Oh, and mine is ……, too.”
When Liz and I handed her the special student certificate that President Ludio had given us, she began to inspect it.
She has a stern look on her face. She reminds me of Keith, who always has a tight expression on his face, but she’s more than that.
And the presence that comes from her body. This is unmistakably the power given by God.
“…… Surely, it’s a sign of a special student of the military school directly under the Mildiana territory.”
“I think Roka–a fox beastkin and her companion, a white-wolf beastkin also came first.”
“Yes. I’ve heard about it. Please come in.”
Prompted by the blonde girl, I walked through the gates of Granden with Liz. Then, there was a row of stone buildings.
After walking around the city for a while, I felt that there was something bleak about it, despite the number of residents.
There were long staircases everywhere, leading to a communication channel far above us.
There are many places where the morning sun is blocked by the stairs and the connecting road, so the sunshine is not very good.
It was not a place where people lived, but rather a fortress that was built as a fortress and then inhabited.
This place really hasn’t changed at all.
A number of staircases, like a spider’s web over the city.
Intersecting roads. And the tall walls that cover the entire city give a sense of stagnation.
Unlike Mildiana, which was more crowded and had a better view, this city Granden was clearly built with defense as its first priority.
Hundreds of years ago, the city was brought down many times by us demon races, but it’s amazing that they still managed to recover like this.
The reason why the population looks larger than before is because there are fewer battles against the demons.
Even so, its population is less than a third of Mildiana’s population of 150,000. Of all the capitals of the empire, this city of Granden seems to be the least populated.
As Liz and I were gazing around the streets, a blonde girl walking in front of us suddenly said.
“It’s not an interesting place to look around like that.”
“Is that so? It’s quite different from Mildiana’s
and quite interesting. Hey, Theo.”
…… I think I told Liz that I was from the vicinity of Granden. I nodded in a matter-of-fact way and Liz continued.
“As Ludio said, Granden was often attacked by demons in the past, right? Are there any traces of that kind left at all?”
“Demons ……? Of course. The last time this land of Granden was attacked by demons was over 500 years ago.”
She replied earnestly, and I couldn’t feel a trace of affection.
“Hey, Theo. Isn’t she kind of unsociable? That girl.”
“I agree. You’re cute when you smile. …… No, I think it’s still cute.”
“I don’t like it. I can tell just from first impressions that we don’t get along. ……”
I listened to Liz’s whispered question and watched the surroundings.
“Oh my God, it’s Clarice. Good morning.”
An old woman, walking with a cane, greeted us. Then the blonde girl in front of me turned to the old woman, straighten up, and saluted her.
“Good morning, Annie. I’m glad to hear that you are doing well today. I heard that you hurt your back the other day. How are you doing? Are you straining yourself?”
“Yeah, yeah. I’m fine. I’ve recovered enough to be able to walk like this. …… It’s still tough without a cane, though. By the way, who are your lovely companions over there?”
The old woman gave me and Liz a curious look. Then the blonde girl said.
“Oh? This is Theodore and Liz from the military academy in Mildiana, the capital of the south, who have come as exchange students. We are just in the process of showing them to the military school directly under the control of the Granden.”
“Oh, my God, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt.”
“Of course not. Please take care of yourself, Annie. Don’t do any heavy lifting for a while.”
“Thank you, Clarice. But I’ve always thought that you don’t need to be so stiff with your speech.”
“No. This is also my role as a soldier. The people of the Empire, especially those who live in the Granden territory, are people we should respect and protect. We can’t take playful attitude.”
“I like Clarice’s smiling face best, though.”
Clarice was a little pressured by her honest words, and she clammed up, but said quickly.
“That’s not how it works. This is also the duty of a soldier. And as a member of the Duke of Fourestier, I can’t act shameful of my attitude…… So, if you’ll excuse me.”
After saluting once more, Clarice hurriedly left. As we followed her, she called out to us from behind.
“Hey, Clarice-aan. Let’s have tea together sometime.”
Later, this time, a well-built man who was selling vegetables at a nearby stall approached me.
“Yo, Clarice-san. You’ve been working hard today”
“Yes! Good morning, Benoit-san. I’ve heard that your shoulder hasn’t been feeling too good lately. How are you?”
“It looks like I can’t beat the aging process. I can’t lift my shoulders well.”
“In such cases, rest well. Be careful of your posture and don’t rub your shoulder more than necessary when it hurts. There is nothing you can do if it gets worse.”
“Hehe, thanks. It’s nice to have a cute girl like Clarice worry about me. …… Here, how about it? Take some of our vegetables.”
“But I still have schoolwork to do and military service to perform.”
“Don’t talk so tough. Here!”
The blonde girl looked slightly confused as she was forced to eat the colorful vegetables in the bamboo basket.
“Oh, thank you very much. I’ll take care of it for the people in the school dormitory.”
“Hey! The two guys behind …… don’t look like they’re from around here. ……?”
Clarice then gave the same response as before and introduced us.
“Oh, really? Sorry to keep you busy, Clarice.”
“No, sir. I am very grateful. We’ll put your vegetables to good use!”
Serious as ever, Clarice started walking again.
I wonder if the reason she look a little wobbly is because she can’t see what’s in front of her because of the amount of vegetables.
“Hey, just wonder. Do you even remember every names of the people in town?”
“Of course. I don’t know everyone, but I at least know the names, genders, and ages of the people who live or set up stalls in this area.”
Liz said as if she had just witnessed a creature that she had never seen before.
And as we were walking, Liz poked me on the shoulder again, a little bit.
“She’s kind of adored, isn’t she? Maybe my impression has changed a little.”
“That’s true. Maybe she’s gentler than I thought.”
We whispered this to each other as we followed, and finally the military school building came into view.
Compared to the military school in Mildiana, it was still rather small.
The entire school building was probably less than half the size.
The military is located right next to the school grounds.
This seems to be almost the same as Mildiana.
I was led into the school building and down the hallway to the cafeteria.
The place that had been crowded with many students suddenly turned silent when the girl in front of me appeared.
A look of awe, fear, respect, jealousy, and many other emotions came to her.
But the blonde girl didn’t seem to mind at all and went to the back.
“Hmm? Oooh, it’s Theo and Liz! That was quicker than I expected.”
Roka, her golden ears perked up, spoke to me as she munched on a loaf of bread.
The wolf girl, who had been lazily eating bread next to the fox girl, glanced over at me.
“You’re early, Liz. Come on, sit next to me. We’ll have dinner together.”
“I’m here, too.”
“I finally lost sight of the man. I think I heard an unpleasant voice coming from somewhere, but I must have imagined it.”
This wolf girl is still the same. I feel like she’s gotten even worse. And then there’s the fact that we’re sitting around the same table, but she’s not eating.
I also saw a young man with red hair lying on the ground.
“Huh? Keith, you’re dead, what’s wrong?”
“It can’t be helped. He followed our beastkin’s run. The results are impressive for a human, but …… as you can see. I shouldn’t run seriously…. ”
“How much I’m… Because of you guys….”
Keith staggered to his feet and covered his face with one hand, which was covered with cold sweat.
You must be really tired, as you haven’t touched a bite of your food.
“When did you and Roka get here?”
“Hmm. It’s been less than two hours. By the way, what happened to that dragon after all?”
“I heard he’s going to enjoy a graceful solo trip. I wonder what he’s doing now.”
“It’d be funny if he ran into some bandits and got his head chopped off.”
Then, she coughed and cleared her throat.
When everyone in the room turned to look at her, the girl with blond hair tied up on the right side of her head said in a formal manner.
“I have your names. Roka-dono, Shaula-dono, Keith-dono, Theodore-dono, Liz-dono. The other one doesn’t seem to be here yet, isn’t?”
“Yes. I mean, I don’t really need a honorific. Just Theodore.”
“Oh, me too. Feel free to call me.”
“You can call me anything you like.”
“Oh, so you’ll call me ‘ma’am’ then, won’t you? Tonight, we’ll be alone, and we’ll talk about all sorts of things.”
Roka’s tail struck Shaula in the face.
Shaula is fainting in agony as the whole chair blows up.
“Oh, what are you doing?” (Clarice)
“It’s business as usual between us. Don’t worry about it. It’s time for you to say your name.” (Roka)
She was upset for a moment, and then quickly became serious.
…… I glanced sideways to see if Shaula was okay, but she was.
She was relieved to see that the person who had been blown away in the face immediately got up and looked happy, and opened his mouth.
“Greetings. My name is Clarice Fourestier. I am the only daughter of the Duke of Fourestier, and a special student of the military academy under the direct command of the Granden. I’m also a second-year student and a soldier with the title of Ensign. Although it’s ‘temporary’.”
“Oh, by the way, Clarice is wearing one of those fluttery things on her shoulder that soldiers wear. What’s going on?”
“I have completed my graduation requirements. Normally, I should have already been commissioned as an Ensign, but …… General Duras and the Principal of the Academy strictly ordered me to study hard and get to know my peers, so I’m still in school. I am still enrolled.”
Apparently he has considerable ability. I can also see that she has strong confidence in that.
And I could tell that she was not hiding the fact that she seemed to be slightly dissatisfied with her current situation.
Clarice. Interesting girl. When I thought she’s cute, Roka said throwing the bread into her mouth all at once and looking like a squirrel.
“Clallise, myddarar. Whuuiduntyiucimpetwuhme? (Clarice, my dear. Why don’t you compete with me?)”
“…… Bad manners! You should eat what you eat before you talk!” (Clarice)
After being scolded, Roka hastily swallowed what was in her mouth.
“Hmm. I guess that’s what you call an stiff person. What do you think, Shaula? Wouldn’t you like to compete with Clarice?”
“Yes. I’d like to know how good she’s. That’s the main reason I’m here.”
She said without seeming to be pressured by the belligerent gazes of the beastkin girls.
“All right, I’ll take you one at a time. Come and get me.”
The students around me, who had been quietly observing the situation, began to make a lot of noise.
“Huh? Is it possible that we’re going to be forced to fight too?”
“Isn’t it? This is going to be interesting.”
She’s a special student at the military school in Granden.
I wondered how good she really was. I naturally raised the corners of my mouth.